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‘Mystery’ Photographic Accessory (a challenge), very early 1900s

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    Posted 8 months ago

    (324 items)

    It’s been a couple years since I posted a “What’s this accessory?” challenge. (Hmmm … it’s been a couple months since I posted anything.)

    One of the reasons for these ‘mystery’ posts is to share with the collector community strange, wonderful and overlooked accessories that have been around since the invention of photography. Some are incredibly odd and work. Others are the equivalent of ‘snake oil.’

    Some helpful (or not) info:
    * 12¾ inches wide x 5 inches deep x 1½ inches thick.
    * Cherry wood and brass construction.

    The challenge is straight forward, what does this thingy do and why would a photographer be interested in it? Gimmick or not?

    In past “What’s this accessory” posts, the CW crowd has proven to be pretty sharp and I expect this to be solved rather quickly.

    As with my previous ‘mystery accessory’ posts, anyone who guesses correctly will have my admiration and that of your CW peers. Whenever this is figured out, I’ll post pictures of the accessory showing its maker’s markings, and (if not figured out) describe how it works.

    IMPORTANT: As always, wild comical speculation is encouraged!


    Added picture of device made specifically for the No.2 Stereo Brownie with the camera; showing the device is bigger than the camera.

    It didn't take long to solve the mystery! The "Stereo Self-Transposing Printer" is a clever device making it easier to correctly print stereo images from roll film. It's a very scarce accessory.

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    1. dav2no1 dav2no1, 8 months ago
      Well first thought was a pochade box, but you said I believe its to make stereo; printing stereo negatives. Most likely Kodak, brownie
    2. rniederman rniederman, 8 months ago
      dav2no1 pretty much nailed it ... well ... roughly 98% right! Impressive!

      This is a device to print stereo negs. It was made by Kodak specifically for its No.2 Stereo Brownie. The camera is posted here at:

      So ... why is a specialized device needed for printing stereo negs?

      dav2no1 ... you got this far ... can you bring it home?
    3. scottvez scottvez, 8 months ago
      Nice rniederman-- I didn't even know that there was a stereo brownie!

    4. SDCameraFan SDCameraFan, 8 months ago
      Looks like it's possibly for making stereo cards for hand-held viewing, but that would only be in vertical format. Unless perhaps they were printed out and then pasted in place? Dunno.
    5. dav2no1 dav2no1, 8 months ago
      It's for a stereoscope viewer. Creates perspective..hope this link works.
    6. dav2no1 dav2no1, 8 months ago
      Wrong link.. maybe this will work? It's a pdf
    7. rniederman rniederman, 8 months ago
      SDCameraFan ... Yes. The Stereo Brownie made vertical picture pairs. Its format was 3¼ x 2½ inches. After printing, a single sheet of printing paper with the image pairs was pasted onto a mount.

      dav2no1 ... Yup! Searching for No.2 Stereo Brownie camera info uncovers the true name of the device - "Stereo Self-Transposing Printer" and how it works.

      Okay ... so why was this an interesting thing to own? It made printing and mounting stereo image pairs much easier because the negatives didn't have to be cut a part and both images could be printed on a single sheet of paper at the proper viewing width (interocular distance).

      When a picture is taken, the image pairs are backwards on the film roll. Additionally, the distance between the negative pairs wasn't optimized for stereo viewers. To solve this, each neg image could be printed separately. This is done by sliding the printing frame’s bed side-to-side. The result was a correctly oriented pair of images spaced appropriately for viewers on a single sheet of paper. Pages 44 through 46 in the PDF booklet (follow the second link from dav2no1) explains why the frame was created and how to operate.
    8. Celiene Celiene, 8 months ago
      You'd think in all my antiquing travels I would have seen a stereo camera. But nope - not til today!
    9. dav2no1 dav2no1, 8 months ago
      Early predecessor to what we now have..3D & 4K
    10. rniederman rniederman, 8 months ago
    11. SEAN68 SEAN68, 8 months ago
    12. rniederman rniederman, 8 months ago
      Hi Celiene ... thanks for looking. Cameras are complex and easily modified which makes authentication difficult. It's one of the reasons antique dealers avoid rarer types. Stereo equipment are interesting and I have many examples posted, as well as other types of multi-lens cameras with 4 to 15 lenses.

      Also thanks to:
    13. rniederman rniederman, 8 months ago
    14. rniederman rniederman, 8 months ago
    15. rniederman rniederman, 7 months ago
    16. rniederman rniederman, 7 months ago
    17. rniederman rniederman, 7 months ago
    18. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 7 months ago
      It sounds like the mystery is solved re: your wonderfully interesting piece. Still, in case you have any remaining questions, you could always try contacting the Eastman Museum, specifically the curator of the Technology collection:
      Thanks for sharing this!
    19. rniederman rniederman, 7 months ago
      Hi, rhineisfine ... thanks for checking this out. There are no questions about what this is or how it is used. I post these 'mysteries' for fun with full knowledge of the items. In regards to the Eastman Museum, it is a marvelous place to visit. And don't miss the George Eastman House! As background, I've known the technology curator (Todd) a long time, have frequently visited the collection for research, and on one trip even identified an unknown Anerican camera in the collection. For those interested in the history of photography, it is a truly great collection to see.
    20. rniederman rniederman, 7 months ago
      Thanks, AntigueToys!

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